Sadly, the agricultural industry has one of the highest levels of work-related injuries and according to the Health and Safety Executive ("HSE") 29 people were killed in farm accidents in the year 1 April 2015 - 31 March 2016. The report shows that the main causes of fatal injury were :
- Falling from a height
- Drownings or asphyxiations
- Contact with machinery
- Contact with an animal
The report also summarises fatalities involving employees, the self-employed and non-employed people killed as a result of someone else’s work activity. Although the law provides greater legal protection to employees, independent contractors are owed a duty of care when they work on your property. Worryingly, in 2015/16 there were more deaths related to self-employed workers than employed workers.
Aside from adopting all reasonable "safe working" practices, it is important to consider having the correct insurance policy in the event of an injury claim.
It is compulsory in the United Kingdom for an employer to have in place employers' liability insurance. However, this duty is not extended to the self-employed such as an independent contractor you may hire in at busy times. You should have cover for all, but can you identify who is an employee and who is an independent contractor?
The distinction is largely one of fact in each case. Someone's tax status is not a guarantee that they are not employed by you. In general, it can be said that independent contractors:
- Retain control over their working hours
- Dictate their workload
- Control how they perform their job
- Provide their own tools and equipment
- Cover all expenses related to the work
- Have a financial interest in how the job is done
In contrast, an employee will, in general:
- Work under the direction and control of another
- Be told what to do and when to do it
- Have tools and equipment supplied to them
- Bear no direct financial risk in carrying the task at hand
For example, a farm worker providing ad hoc help at harvest, weekends or evenings would most likely be regarded by the Court as an employee of the farm business, regardless of his or her tax status.
If the position with your employees/contractors is uncertain, it would be prudent to have a comprehensive cover plan for both employees and visitors.